Our Perspective

      • Rwanda: Gains made against poverty, a lesson for others | Auke Lootsma

        27 Feb 2012

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        Building Capacity in Rwanda. Photo: UNICEF/Giacomo Pirozzi

        Rwanda’s latest data release this month shows enormous improvement in the living standards of citizens over the past five years, and progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) - eight internationally-agreed goals aimed at reducing poverty and improving education, health, gender equality and environmental sustainability by 2015. Over the past half a decade, Rwanda has posted an average annual growth of real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 8.4 percent, driven mainly by higher productivity in the agricultural and industrial sectors. Critically, the poor have benefited from this growth spurt.  Rwandans have developed their own homegrown initiatives in order to tackle poverty at the most local level. The “one-cow-per-family” programme, just to name one, provides families with milk for consumption and what is left over is sold for profit, improving nutrition and income at the household level.     Through government-led efforts the poverty rate fell from 56.7 percent in 2006 to 44.9 percent in 2011. If maintained over the longer term, this annual poverty reduction rate of 2.4 percent could put Rwanda in the company of Asian Tiger economies such as China, Vietnam and Thailand that have been able over many years to lift millions out of poverty while sustaining growth. There has Read More

      • It is time to break the cycle of food insecurity in the Sahel

        14 Feb 2012

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        Photo: WFP/Phil Behan

        A food crisis is looming in the West of the Sahel, a semi-arid belt stretching from Africa’s Atlantic coast to the Red Sea. In the lean season, which starts in April, millions of people from Mauritania to Chad will likely require food and nutritional support. For instance, it is estimated that more than a million children will need life-saving treatment for severe and acute malnutrition in 2012. Across the Sahel, extreme weather events, leading to failed harvests and food price increases, have created pockets of acute food insecurity. In addition, the crisis in Libya and the current fighting in Mali have aggravated the security and humanitarian situation in the region. But the key issue is chronic poverty. In the Sahel, the most vulnerable people struggle to feed themselves even in good years, because they lack the livelihoods to buy or produce sufficient quantities of nutritious food. Lack of investment in rural infrastructure; limited access to credit, markets and insurance schemes; and poor social protection coverage, including health services, cause many households to break down when times get even tougher. Later this week, the Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Helen Clark, and the UN’s Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos, Read More

      • Sustainable energy access critical for development in Africa | Helen Clark

        29 Dec 2011

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        Access to modern affordable energy services in developing countries is essential for the achievement of the internationally agreed development goals. Photo: UN Foundation

        Almost 45 per cent of those who lack access to energy live in Sub-Saharan Africa, making up 69 per cent of the region’s population. They number 585 million people. Seventy eight per cent of those living in Sub-Saharan Africa use traditional biomass for cooking and heating (650 million). Energy needs extend well beyond having electricity available in homes. In Africa, where so many depend on rain-fed agriculture for their livelihood, expanding access to energy for irrigation, food production, and processing is vital. It can boost agricultural productivity and rural incomes, and empower women who make up a significant proportion of the continent’s farmers. For UNDP, access to sustainable energy is critical for making societies more equitable and inclusive, and for encouraging green growth and sustainable development overall. We advocate for equity, inclusiveness, resilience, and sustainability to be the guiding principles for efforts to achieve universal energy access.  We recognize that different groups have different energy needs. Therefore, governments need to balance the financing of large-scale energy projects with support for the off-grid, decentralized energy solutions which will help meet the needs of the poorest and most marginalised people. Cleaner cooking and heating fuels and motor power for productive activities are also Read More